(Rom_1:1-6) Paul introduces his gospel to the Romans.
Rom 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God
Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
a. He promised before through His prophets: This gospel is not something new, and it is not a clever invention of man. Paul’s world was much like ours, with people liked “new” teachings and doctrines. Nevertheless, Paul didn’t bring something new, but something very old in the plan of God.
b. Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord: This is the center of Paul’s gospel, the “son” that everything else orbits around. The center of Christianity is not a teaching or a moral system, it is a Person: Jesus Christ.
1. This Jesus has both a human origin (born of the seed of David according to the flesh), and an eternal existence (declared to be the Son of God). The evidence of Jesus’ humanity is His human birth; the evidence of His deity is His resurrection from the dead.
Look at Psalm 2 , Isaiah 9:6 and other scriptures from the old testament.
ii. The resurrection of Jesus shows His divine power because He rose by His own power: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again. (Joh_2:19)
iii. “There is a sense in which Jesus was the Son of God in weakness before the resurrection but the Son of God in power thereafter.” (Morris)
c. Declared: This ancient Greek word (horizo) comes from the idea “to bound, define, determine, or limit, and hence our word horizon, the line that determines the farthest visible part of the earth in reference to the heavens. In this place the word signifies such a manifest and complete exhibition of the subject as to render it indubitable.” (Clarke)
e. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith: Paul’s gospel impacts individual lives. It isn’t interesting theory or philosophy, it is life-changing good news.
i. The gospel gave Paul and the church grace and apostleship, and one reason those two gifts were given was to produce obedience to the faith. “Without the GRACE, favour, and peculiar help of God, he could not have been an apostle.”
ii. The gospel is big enough and great enough for the whole world; it must go out to impact all nations.
iii. The gospel had reached the Roman Christians, demonstrating that they are the called of Jesus Christ.
3. (Rom_1:7-15) Paul’s desire to come to Rome.
To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
a. To all who are in Rome: Paul had never been to Rome, and did not found the Roman church. This makes the Book of Romans different because most of Paul’s letters were to churches he founded. It seems the church in Rome began somewhat spontaneously as Christians came to the great city of the Empire and settled there. There is no Biblical or historical evidence that the Apostle Peter founded the church in Rome.
Act_2:10 describes how there were people from Rome among the Jews present at the Day of Pentecostal, so when they returned home that was a start. Beyond that, the origins of the church in Rome are somewhat obscure, but Christians continually migrated to Rome from all parts of the empire. It shouldn't surprise us that a church started there spontaneously, without the direct planting by an apostle.
Even so, through mutual acquaintances or through his travels, Paul knew many of the Christians in Rome by name because he mentions them in Romans 16. Even if Paul knew many of the Roman Christian by acquaintance, he knew two things about them. He knew they were beloved of God and that they were saints.
Called to be saints: “You notice that the words ‘to be’ are put in by the translators These believers in Rome were ‘called saints.’ They were not called because they were saints; but they became saints through the calling.” (Spurgeon)
Lenski says Rom_1:8-15 has the feel of “small talk” among those trying to get to know one another.
Grace to you and peace from God: Paul formally addresses his readers with his familiar greeting, combining the Greek greeting of grace with the Jewish greeting of peace. This grace and peace is not the kind wish of a man; they are gifts, coming from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world: Paul was thankful for the good reputation of the church in Rome. Because of its location, this church had a special visibility and opportunity to glorify Jesus throughout the empire.
These Christians had to be strong. “The Christians of Rome were unpopular - reputed to be ‘enemies of the human race’ and credited with such vices as incest and cannibalism. In large numbers, then, they became the victims of the imperial violence - and it is this persecution of Christians under Nero that traditionally forms the setting for Paul’s martyrdom.” (Bruce)
Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers: Paul wanted the Roman Christians to know he was praying for them, and praying for an opportunity to visit them (I may find a way in the will of God to come to you).
“No wonder that they prospered so well when Paul always made mention of them in his prayers. Some churches would prosper better if some of you remembered them more in prayer.” (Spurgeon)
For God is my witness is perhaps Paul’s acknowledgment of how easy it is to say you will pray for someone, and then fail to do it. He wanted them to know that he was really praying.
I may impart to you . . . that I may be encouraged: Paul’s desire to visit the church in Rome is not merely to give to them, but to receive as well, because Paul realized that in their mutual faith, they have something to give to him.
I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now): For a long time, Paul wanted to visit Rome and was only hindered by external circumstances. Perhaps some enemies of Paul implied he was afraid to go to Rome and preach the gospel in the “major leagues,” in the Empire’s leading city.
I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise: Paul recognized he had something of a debt to Rome. The Roman Empire brought world peace and order, they brought a common cultural, and an excellent transportation system to the world. Paul used all these in spreading the gospel, so he can best repay this debt by giving Rome the good news of Jesus Christ.
Paul was such a tireless evangelist, working all over the world because he believed he had a debt to pay, and he owed it to the whole world.
I am ready: Spurgeon wonders if Paul didn’t use the words “I am ready” as his motto. Almost the first words out of his mouth when he was saved were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Act_9:6)
• Paul was ready to preach and to serve (Rom_1:15)
• Paul was ready to suffer (Act_21:13)
• Paul was ready to do unpleasant work (2Co_10:6)
• Paul was ready to die (2Ti_4:6)
“A Moravian was about to be sent by Zinzendorf to preach in Greenland. He had never heard of it before; but his leader called him, and said, ‘Brother, will you go to Greenland?’ He answered, ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘When will you go?’ ‘When my boots come home from the cobbler;’ and he did go as soon as his boots came home. He wanted nothing else but just that pair of boots, and he was ready to go. Paul, not even waiting for his boots to come home from the cobbler, says, ‘I am ready.’ Oh, it is grand to find a man so little entangled that he can go where God would have him go, and can go at once.” (Spurgeon)
I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also: This is a bold way of talking. “Talk of your brave men, your great men, O world! Where in all history can you find one like Paul? Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, marched with the protection of their armies to enforce their will upon men. Paul was eager to march with Christ alone to the center of this world’s greatness entrenched under Satan with the word of the cross, which he himself says is to the Jews, and offence; and to Gentiles, foolishness.” (Newell)
ironically - in the mystery of God’s irony, when Paul did eventually get to Rome, he came as a shipwrecked prisoner.
“I do not suppose that Paul guessed that he would be sent there at the government expense, but he was. The Roman Empire had to find a ship for him, and a fit escort for him, too; and he entered the city as an ambassador in bonds. When our hearts are set on a thing, and we pray for it, God may grant us the blessing; but, it may be, in a way that we never looked for. You shall go to Rome, Paul; but you shall go in chains.” (Spurgeon)
Paul Arrives at Rome
Act 28:11 After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.
Act 28:12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days.
Act 28:13 From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,
Act 28:14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.
Act 28:15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
Act 28:16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.
4. (Rom_1:16-17) Paul introduces the theme of his letter: the righteousness of God, as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
After his introduction, Paul introduces his “thesis statement” for his letter to the Romans. Leon Morris says of Rom_1:16-17 : “These two verses have an importance out of all proportion to their length.”
I am not ashamed of the gospel reveals Paul’s heart. In a sophisticated city like Rome, some might be embarrassed by a gospel centered on a crucified Jewish savior, embraced by the lowest classes of people - but Paul is not ashamed.
For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes: This is why Paul is not ashamed of a gospel centered on a crucified savior. He knows that the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - has
inherent power. We do not give it power, we only stop hindering the power of the gospel when we present it effectively.
The gospel is certainly news, but it is more than information; it has an inherent power. “The gospel is not advice to people, suggesting that they lift themselves. It is power. It lifts them up. Paul does not say that the gospel brings power, but that it is power, and God’s power at that.” (Morris)
In particular, Rome thought it knew all about power: “Power is the one thing that Rome boasted of the most. Greece might have its philosophy, but Rome had its power.” Despite all their power, the Romans - like all men - were powerless to make themselves righteous before God. The ancient philosopher Seneca called Rome “a cesspool of iniquity” and the ancient writer Juvenal called it a “filthy sewer into which the dregs of the empire flood.”
For salvation: In the Roman world of Paul’s day, men looked for salvation. Philosophers knew that man was sick and needed help. Epictetus called his lecture room “the hospital for the sick soul.” Epicurus called his teaching “the medicine of salvation.” Seneca said that because men were so conscious of “their weakness and their inefficiency in necessary things” that all men were looking “towards salvation.” Epictetus said that men were looking for a peace “not of Caesar’s proclamation, but of God’s.” (Cited in Barclay)
The gospel’s power to salvation comes to everyone who believes. God will not withhold salvation from the one who believes; but believing is the only requirement.
The message of the gospel came for the Jew first and also for the Greek (the non-Jew). This was demonstrated both by the ministry of Jesus (Mat_15:24) and the initial ministry of the disciples (Mat_10:5-6).
This means that the gospel was meant to go first to the ethnic and cultural Jew, and then to the cultural Greek. “At this time the word Greek had lost its racial sense altogether. It did not mean a native of the country of Greece . . . (a Greek) was one who knew the culture and the mind of Greece.”
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed: Simply, the gospel reveals the righteousness of God. This revelation of God’s righteousness comes to those with faith, fulfilling Hab_2:4 : The just - that is, the justified ones - shall live by faith.
It is essential to understand exactly what the righteousness of God revealed by the gospel is. It is not speaking of the holy righteousness of God that condemns the guilty sinner, but of the God-kind of righteousness that is given to the sinner who puts their trust in Jesus Christ.
Righteousness: William Barclay explains the meaning of this ancient Greek word dikaioo, which means I justify, and is the root of dikaioun (righteousness): “All verbs in Greek which end in oo . . . always mean to treat, or account or reckon a person as something. If God justifies a sinner, it does not mean that he finds reasons to prove that he was right - far from it. It does not even mean, at this point, that he makes the sinner a good man. It means that God treats the sinner as if he had not been a sinner at all.”
“It was the happiest day in Luther’s life when he discovered that ‘God’s Righteousness’ as used in Romans means God’s verdict of righteousness upon the believer.” (Lenski)
This declaration is even greater when we understand that this is the righteousness of God given to the believer. It is not the righteousness of even them most holy mere man, nor is it the righteousness of innocent Adam in Eden. It is God’s righteousness. “The righteousness which is unto justification is one characterized by the perfection belonging to all that God is and does. It is a ‘God-righteousness’.” (Murray)
This faith (trust) in Jesus Christ becomes the basis of life for those who are justified (declared righteous); truly, the just shall live by faith. They are not only saved by faith, but they live by faith.
From faith to faith: The idea behind this difficult phrase is probably “by faith from beginning to end.” The NIV translates the phrase from faith to faith as by faith from first to last.
“He saith not, from faith to works, or from works to faith; but from faith to faith, only by faith.”
“Perhaps what it conveys is the necessity of issuing a reminder to the believer that justifying faith is only the beginning of the Christians life. The same attitude must govern him in his continuing experience as a child of God.” (Harrison) This is an “echo” of Paul’s message in Gal_3:1-3.
Whatever we take from tonights lesson, it should be that, it is impossible to please God without faith.
Jesus said that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains.
Next week,Lord willing, we will finish chapter this chapter.